Convicted killer Richard Allen Davis seeks to overturn death sentence of Polly Klaas

Lawyers for one of California's most infamous convicted killers, Richard Allen Davis, asked a judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday to overturn his death sentence following the 1993 murder and kidnap of 12-year-old Polly Klaas.

Davis, 69, who was not in court, was convicted in 1996 after a jury found that he had taken the girl from her mother's Petaluma home during a slumber party with two friends.

Davis’ lawyers argued that a recent criminal justice reform law that invalidated certain sentencing enhancements entitles Davis to have his sentence reconsidered, the Mercury News reported.

Polly's father, Marc Klaas, is furious. 

"He's got to be the most reviled guy in the California prison system," Klaas said outside court on Friday. "This case is the tip of the iceberg. It's going to happen again, again, and again, and again. And I'll tell you what's going to happen. In some of these instances, somebody's going to get out and mayhem will ensue."

Davis was charged with her murder, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted lewd acts on a child. His trial was moved to Santa Clara County because of intense publicity around the case.

Davis is also known for sticking out his middle finger at the television cameras as the jury delivered its death verdict in 1996. He still has another appeal pending.

Outrage over Polly’s murder pushed California to embrace tough-on-crime laws, including the "three strikes you’re out" laws calling for life sentences for repeat violent felons.

Years later, however, California’s prisons filled up, and the state had to respond to federal court orders to address overcrowding.

Politicians, including then Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Gavin Newsom began peeling back many of the sentencing measures to reduce mass incarceration.

That included laws eliminating many sentencing enhancements for prior convictions. In 2021, the state approved a bill by Sen. Ben Allen (D-El Segundo) that would make the elimination of those prior conviction sentencing enhancements apply retroactively.

Davis' lawyers argued in a court filing that the law that took effect in 2022 invalidates their clients' sentencing enhancements for four prior serious felony convictions and three previous prison terms and entitles him to a full resentencing.

But Sonoma County prosecutors contend that the law doesn’t apply to his death sentence for Polly’s murder and would affect only two years of his prison sentence on other charges related to the crime.

California hasn't executed anyone since 2006. 

The judge will decide on May 31 whether he is eligible for resentencing.